Five anti-fracking campaigners are due to go on trial on Monday 24 March at Brighton Magistrates’ Court after being arrested during a peaceful protest over Cuadrilla’s plans to test drill for shale oil in the Sussex village of Balcombe.
The peaceful protest last August highlighted widespread opposition to Cuadrilla’s plans to use fracking – hydraulic fracturing – to extract shale oil in Balcombe.
Last summer, Sussex Police arrested 126 people during the anti-fracking protests in Balcombe, which included the five who will appear in court on Monday.
All of the five, including Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, deny charges of obstructing the public highway and of failing to comply with conditions imposed by a senior police officer.
Fracking is a controversial process where a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground, under high pressure, to force gas from rock layers.
Cuadrilla has been carrying on exploratory drilling at Balcombe to see if the area has oil and gas bearing rocks.
Climate scientists agree that we must take action now to avert irreversible climate change and experts are clear that 60 to 80 per cent of unexploited fossil fuels will have to remain in the ground to avoid climate change.(1)
Fracking for shale gas and oil, which has proved uneconomic in the US, will neither increase energy independence nor reduce fuel bills.
Caroline said in her recent blog on this issue, “Working to address the threat of climate change has been a priority for me throughout my political life.
“I know, too, that this is very important to a large number of my constituents, because so many of them have written to me about the environmental risks posed by fracking, and the urgency of climate change.”
The following statement was read out by Shelia Menon on behalf of the five anti-fracking campaigners standing trial at Brighton Magistrates Court after being arrested during a peaceful protest over Cuadrillas plans to test drill for shale oil in the Sussex village of Balcombe.
“On 19 August, we took part in a peaceful protest in Balcombe, against fracking.
"We are here to defend ourselves.
"Balcombe is the start of a major struggle over the search and exploitation of yet more fossil fuels – and the stakes could hardly be higher.
"This week the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report will be published, which is based on thousands of peer-reviewed studies and put together by hundreds of respected scientists. Leaked drafts suggest it will predict that climate change will cause violent conflict, displace millions of people and wipe trillions of dollars off the global economy.
"Time is running out.
"The latest science suggests that as much as 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have any hope of avoiding dangerous climate change.
"In a number of other countries, fracking is banned. We remain deeply concerned at the prospect of fracking here in the UK.
"We’d like to thank the people gathered here for all their support.
"We have been advised by our lawyer to make no further comment at this stage.